WordPress sites are particularly prone to attacks by hackers owing to the potentially valuable resources that they hold. When hackers manage to hijack your WordPress website, even temporarily, they can wreck serious damage to your business or reputation. In some cases, they may conduct malicious activities that leave you in legal problems with your clients. Thus taking some action to safeguard WordPress websites is a necessity for every webmaster.
Hackers can use your credentials to solicit funds from your trusted clients. They may even request your clients to surrender personal data. This may later be used for impersonation or spamming. There are several steps that you can take in order to safeguard your WordPress site from hackers and other malicious web users.
1. Make use of Trusted Plug-ins
Your WordPress content management system supports plug-ins from third parties aimed at providing you with more features. Like other types of software, plug-ins vary in quality and cost. Some are free, others require you to pay upfront, while others offer you a subscription. In the same regard, some plug-ins are bust while others will offer you a lot of value. A wp security scan can show you whether you made the wrong bet when buying a certain plug-in.
Essentially, you will get value for the money you part with when it comes to plug-ins. However, you will occasionally come across a free plug-in that beats a paid alternative. The key lies in researching widely and experimenting with different options. With paid plug-ins, you must do your research with a bit of negative bias.
2. Do some Research before buying a Plug-in
Do not be too optimistic when researching about these types of programs. They were created by people who may not care about your needs as long as they get you pay up. This is why some plug-ins will work excellently for a few weeks before getting all buggy and unusable. Some developers simply do not care about creating stable software. You may look for an updated WordPress security checklist to sort them out.
You need to pay attention to the negative reviews more than you do the positive ones. Avoid paying any money for new plug-ins since the developer might be uncommitted. In some cases, the developer may simply be looking for a way to get into your server. This is why you should be cautious when installing free or cheap plug-ins that do not seem to promise any return to the developer.
3. Only use Plug-ins from Reputable Developers
Overall, chose plug-ins that published by seasoned developers who release regular updates and have attracted very few negative reviews. Avoid plug-ins from developers who do not follow up to fix the problems that their clients are facing. Like other pieces of software, avoid third party market places when searching for plug-ins. You will find that WordPress security plugins avoid unofficial markets as well.
Unofficial marketplaces host a lot of malware and other potentially harmful programs. If you have already installed such programs, you can fix your site using wordpress security plugins. The plug-ins that are rejected by the trusted marketplaces will readily be accommodated on such sites. These are not the places you want to look for software if you care about your business. There is every chance that your WordPress site will pick up a virus that can be used as backdoor for a future attack.
4. Remove Old Plug-ins
As a person who has owned a WordPress site for several years, you probably know that web images are a major drain to your server space. You might have heard that it is necessary to delete old images as they may be used by attackers to target your website. There is very little evidence that images can be used to compromise your WordPress site in any serious manner.
There is evidence that old plug-ins can be used to compromise your WordPress site easily. A simple wp security scan will reveal that the old plug-ins are highly vulnerable. The most vulnerable plug-ins are the popular ones that people purchased by many users. Such plug-ins are especially more likely to compromise your site if their authors have stopped the update cycles. Hackers can reverse engineer the plug-ins looking for weakness in the code and potential ways to crack the same.
5. Avoid Developers who do not update their Plug-ins
Some hacker target plug-ins that rarely receive any updates. A seasoned hacker only needs to study the loopholes in an old plug-in for a few months before launching the attack. Other WordPress users simply fail to update the plug-ins despite receiving notifications from the developers. Again, this is more common among WordPress users who have ceased to use a certain feature as they have moved on to other projects.
6. Use Security Plug-in
There is a high likelihood that you will not detect an intrusion through an old plug-in. You can only do so if you have WordPress security plugins. Silent hacker attacks can be more detrimental than active ones since the malicious people can siphon resources from your site for several months or years. If they manage to sell away your data to your competitors, it may be too late to save your business by the time that you discover the attack. You may be compromised so much that the most logical path is business dissolution.
7. Research the known Plug-in Attacks
A good example of a plug-in that was used for a hack is Tim Thumb. The plug-in had a huge bug that hackers used to access people’s WordPress sites. When the bug was discovered, many people cut their losses and took the appropriate action depending on the extent of the damage. Those who carried on using the plug-in updated their version of Tim Thumb essentially sealing the hole in the program and locking the hackers out.
There are some people who have not updated their Tim Thumb plug-ins to date. While they can catch the bug using a WordPress security checklist, they still use the buggy program enabling the hackers to keep mining their personal and business data indefinitely. It is always a good idea to get rid of everything that you do not need as a web-preneur. ‘When in doubt, throw it out’. With plug-ins, you could disable and delete them all.
To safeguard your WordPress site, you need to use trusted plug-ins, get rid of old ones, and install ones that scan your site for security loopholes. Remember that the reputation of the developer of an old plug-in will not help you. This may be a good opportunity to delete that Google Plus authorship plug-in if you still have it. Google discontinued the program and development years ago.